Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Budget Busters

Everything you need to know about the massive disrespect (if not pure and outright contempt) that Republicans display for the nation's first black president is evidenced in the fact that the GOP refuses to allow President Obama's budget chief to testify in front of Congress, something that hasn't happened in over 40 years.

President Obama sends Congress his eighth and last annual budget proposal on Tuesday, a lame-duck executive’s accounting of national priorities that Republican leaders have branded sight unseen: dead before arrival.

But some new ideas that the administration previewed in recent weeks, including on cancer research, opioid abuse and military projects, could have more life than Republicans care to admit. A $10-a-barrel oil tax for infrastructure and clean transportation projects is certain to be too much for conservatives, but administration officials said some initiatives would prevail in some form.

Congressional Republicans went to new lengths to extinguish any such expectations. Breaking with a 41-year-old tradition, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees announced that they would not even give the president’s budget director, Shaun Donovan, the usual hearings in their panels this week

Keep in mind that every President since Carter has sent a budget to be reviewed by Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, for 41 years.  This year, Republicans can't even be bothered to do that.  It is hard to see this as anything other than outright rancor borne out of irrational hatred of President Obama, a slap in the face that no other President in recent history has ever received.

They hate him this much.  But please, tell me again how submitting a budget proposal is somehow President Obama's fault for injecting partisan politics.

G. William Hoagland, who was the Republican staff director at the Senate Budget Committee for much of the 1980s and 1990s, and is senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said he could not recall a year since the modern budget process took effect in the 1970s when a president’s budget director was not invited to testify before the budget committees.

“While the last budget of an outgoing president is usually aspirational, and sets a theme for what he or she hopes will be followed up by his or her successor, it nonetheless should be reviewed by the Congress,” Mr. Hoagland said.

On Monday, 14 Democrats on the House Budget Committee signed a letter calling the snub “disrespectful to the committee members, the public and the president.” And like Mr. Hoagland, other Republicans criticized the decision, which injects partisan toxicity early in a year of election pressures.

“I believe that permitting the administration the courtesy of explaining its intent and what it thinks of the policy should have been maintained,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and an economic adviser to Republicans. Besides, he added, “it gives you an opportunity to express why you disagree.”

But it's not fair to attribute this to bigotry against the nation's first black President, right?

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